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Looking at a couple of meta questions, including my own, I have the following (Meta)^2 question:

To which extent does asking suggestive questions defeat the purpose of meta?

The point is the following: if someones wishes to substantiate that the community or majority of users supports a certain point of view, one could ask a meta question on that. However, if the OP has a certain opinion on that, they may, inadvertently or not, formulate the question in such a way that it strongly suggests some view, which will then get reflected by the answers. I am certainly not "innocent" in this regard, for instance when I wrote this post one of the aims was to get some confirmation that academic honesty is important. However, now I am no longer sure that these kinds of questions, when asked by someone with a clear opinion or agenda, are really the way to go. After all the OP can use a wording that strongly suggests something, which makes many just echo the OP's opinion, and, what is more, mark one answer as the "accepted" one, which may then suggest that this is the correct answer. This is particularly tricky when another user had a similar question before, and the new question gets closed as a duplicate. Then the choice of the first user which answer to accept will have an impact on all later related questions. My question:

Is that the purpose of meta?

or

How can we find out the opinions of our fellow users without, inadvertently or not, already suggesting one?

Let me stress that here I do not have any opinion and really want to learn more about the opinion of others.

  • [off-topic] what is the meaning behind the title: (meta)^2? – Raaja Jul 2 at 6:32
  • I gave up long-time ago, in particular, on this part: How can we find out the opinions of our fellow users without, inadvertently or not, already suggesting one?. Instead, I just decided to take the opinion literally (and determine for myself whether it is sensible or non-sense) when our fellow users proposed something ;-). The latter is much easier than the former. Of course, sometimes, I do err, but as soon as one of our user raises their opinion, I will consider it and incorporate it for the future. – Raaja Jul 2 at 6:36
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    @Raaja It is (meta)^2 because it is meta of meta. A normal meta question asks about the purpose/ru//es/... on the man site, this is about about the purpose/ru//es/... of the meta site. – user121799 Jul 2 at 14:41
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    clear! But I still think mentioning this as meta is sufficient. Nevertheless, I would have preferred meta(meta) :D – Raaja Jul 2 at 19:59
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You're over-thinking it a bit too much...

There will never be a clear black-and-white line on what is on- or off-topic on meta or on the main site. There will always be some subjective view that causes certain questions to fall within some grey area not covered by all the guidelines/suggestions.

If you are uncertain about whether or not something is on- or off-topic on a site, visit the chat room and feel out the audience there. If you're concerned that someone else will steal your idea and post it in your stead, then you're probably only after reputation... at that point, it's better to find a different platform where you can ask without the Stack Exchange voting behaviour.

It's okay to ask questions with suggestive answering avenues. Many questions fall within that category, depending on what you mean by "some extent." Those that agree will answer or support an answer covering that opinion. Since meta is more discussion-based, answers highlighting opposing views are also welcome.

If the question uncertainty stems from a caution of having a duplicate question being closed, rest assured that having a question closed as a duplicate is not a sin. It does not tarnish your reputation or presents you as a non-researcher-of-similar-questions... in fact, it should be considered as a strengthening agent to the site's body of knowledge. Your take on something that seems completely different yet leads to the same answer if a good way of connecting those with your view to the same answer.

Finally, if you want polls, know that it doesn't fit well within the model here, but can work to some extent.

  • Thanks for the reply, but it does not quite answer the main question, which is whether or not questions by users with a clear opinion defeat the purpose since the answers will. to some extent, echo the opinion of the asker. – user121799 Jul 3 at 6:59
  • @marmot: I've elaborated a bit. We've had the odd question asked where the accepted answer seems to echo the opinion in the question. If that's the case, the community would probably use voting to show support or otherwise. – Werner Jul 3 at 15:11

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